Middle Class Scholarship program

The Middle Class Scholarship (MCS) program provides funding to help middle-class students attend the University of California or California State University.

How it works

Each year, the state allocates funding for the program. For UC students, the goal of this funding is to provide scholarships that help cover up to 40% of UC’s systemwide tuition and fees. What this means for you:

  • Make sure you apply for financial aid. There are no separate forms required to apply for the Middle Class Scholarship Program, but remember — you will need to apply for financial aid every year by the March 2 deadline.
  • If your family’s income and househould assets are under $150,000 per year and you qualify for this scholarship, the California Student Aid Commission (CSAC) and your UC campus financial aid office will let you know your actual scholarship amount.

What to expect

The Middle Class Scholarship program, which started in the 2014-15 academic year, will continue to phase in until full implementation in 2017-18.

At that point, the maximum scholarship amount will vary depending on family income and assets:

  • For students with family incomes up to $100,000 and household assets of no more than $150,000: The MCS will cover 40 percent of systemwide tuition and fees
  • For students with family incomes up to $150,000 per year (based on a sliding scale) and household assets of no more than $150,000: The MCS will cover between 10 percent and 40 percent of systemwide tuition and fees

Until 2017-18 when the program is fully phased in, the maximum amounts will be lower. In 2015-16, the maximum award for UC students is $2,448, while the average award is likely about $4,500.

Things to keep in mind:

  • Award amounts are determined after a student is awarded any federal Pell Grant, Cal Grant and UC need-based grants for which the student is eligible. A student will be awarded a scholarship only if these awards, taken together, do not already exceed the amount that the student is entitled to under the MCS program.
  • The final award amount will be based on the number of students eligible for the scholarship statewide and the funding allocated for the program by the State Budget.
  • Many students with financial need will qualify for UC grants or Cal Grants that are worth even more than the amount provided by the MCS program. Think of the MCS award as a minimum level of grant and scholarship assistance – you may qualify for more, depending on your circumstances.

Who’s eligible

New, transfer and returning undergraduate students at the University of California or California State University with annual family income and household assets of up to $150,000 who also meet the following requirements may be eligible:

  • California resident or have AB 540 status
  • Not in default on a student loan
  • Maintain satisfactory academic progress
  • Have family asset levels, excluding equity in a primary residence and savings in retirement accounts, of up to $150,000
  • Meet income and other financial aid standards
  • File a FAFSA/California Dream Act Application by March 2nd.

Learn more about applying for financial aid »

How to apply?

There's not a separate application. Just make sure to file a FAFSA or CA Dream Act application by March 2.

Submit a FAFSA or CA Dream Act application »

Still have questions about the MCS?

For more information about the Middle Class Scholarship program: